After hearing about The Alternative Tarot Course through the fox and the otter (a really lovely blog about tarot), I decided to give it a try. One of the first things I’m tackling is the “Reader’s Reading.” I actually did this twice. Once I went through the deck and chose cards for each position, and then I shuffled and let tarot do the choosing. Both ways were really fun and engaging 🙂
Position One: My Most Important Characteristic
I said Three of Cups. This is one of the few cards I’ve been able to explore so far in my tarot journey and while it isn’t quite so obvious that it might represent a part of me, when I am able to let go I can feel so connected and joyful. And this is my favorite thing about myself.
Tarot said Three of Wands. This could mean that am already taking steps to create the kind of change or outcome I want. I’m a go-getter. I don’t sit around and wait for things to happen to me or for me. If I’m unhappy with something I am already thinking of ways to make it better, and as soon as I have a plan of action I begin work.
They are both threes! Threes can represent creation, creativity, happiness, optimism, the death of something old to bring forth something new, and pleasure. The creative and happy parts of myself are what I believe my best characteristics are.
Position Two: What Strength I Already Possess As A Tarot Reader
I said Four of Cups. I almost chose the Hermit because they are both about about introspection, but from what I have read so far, the Three of Cups says more about dissatisfaction. I’m not saying dissatisfaction is a strength at face value, but as I stated above, I don’t sit around when I don’t like something. So far I am understanding this card to mean a willingness to look inward for solutions to dissatisfaction. The strength I bring to tarot is a willingness to examine my own inner self in my quest for a more connected and meaningful life.
Tarot said King of Pentacles. This one was tough for me, but the keyword that finally jumped out at me was “commitment.” The King of Pentacles did not achieve his worldly success without commitment. Similarly, I will not achieve my emotional, mental, and spiritual successes without commitment. And committed I am! The King of Pentacles takes measured, well-thought-out risks. Like this, I do not tend to jump headlong into a risky situation without weighing all risks and alternatives. Perhaps the strength I bring to tarot is my commitment to learning the practice of tarot and my thoughtful analysis which helps me to choose a realistic and measured plan of action in many situations.
Position Three: What Limits Do I Bring To My Study Of Tarot
I said Eight of Swords. It might be sort of an obvious and not terribly creative choice, but it certainly fits. When I am feeling particularly bad I lose sight of my thoughtful steps forward and feel trapped and alone. I become blind to the many resources and forms of support that can free me, even when they are in fact right next to me. This blindness would be a limit in my study of tarot, but even in the short time I have been learning tarot I can already tell it is a good tool to help me see through my blindfold.
Tarot said King of Swords. Anthony Louis in Tarot: Plain and Simple says, “You may be acting in an overly cool and intellectual manner to the exclusion of feelings and softer ways of relating to others. … You need to consider whether you are out of touch with your feelings and perhaps afraid of entering into an intimate relationship with another” (292). Benebell Wen’s Holistic Tarot says that the King of Swords “has a tendency to be too rigid … a man firm with friends and firm with enemies … [he] expects himself to uphold a rigid code of conduct, but he does not stop there; he also expects everyone around him to uphold the same rigid code” (208-209). Those are all 100% fair statements about myself. I have been told by more than one person on more than one occasion that I have extremely high expectation of others. These are indeed the same high expectations I hold for myself. And this is indeed rigid. This is the stubborn, unbudging part of myself as the Tarot Donkey. I expect others to put the same amount of thought and analysis into their treatment of me that I put in for my treatment of others. This is actually pretty rare. I think far more often than others. Like all traits represented in the tarot, this is a characteristic with a light side and a shadow side. This makes it hard for me to embrace the Three of Cups part of myself. Fun doesn’t usually involve analysis. Like the King of Swords I understand some situations are gray and I try to assess what would be best in each scenario. But like the King of Swords, once I have made my ruling it often solidifies to stone like the crystals on his crown. In this card, he looks over a yellow-brown landscape with rigid columns. It looks pretty lonely. But the tree might represent the softer more nurturing piece that can emerge when hard, logical analysis is not given priority in all situations.
Both of these cards were Swords. In a future post I plan to write about my strong identification with the Queen of Swords, but in a nutshell Swords can speak about loss, aggression, and warriors. After the losses I experienced in childhood I can be quite the “tough cookie.” And that is, of course, not always the best course of action.
Position Four: A Key Lesson I Can Learn From Tarot
I chose The Moon. I think a key lesson I can learn is how to be better in tune with my subconscious, to work through my darker aspects of self. As I said above, I share many not-so-wonderful characteristics in common with the King of Swords. The Moon symbolizes the deeper and more intuitive parts of the mind and how these parts influence us when they surface. Louis says, “Your gut feelings may be more reliable than logical analysis. … The Moon card asks us to reflect on our primitive origins in the animal world and in the collective unconscious” (106). There are some more negative connotations associated with The Moon, such as deceitfulness, but this card made me think about a greater awareness and synthesis between the conscious and unconscious, so that is what I am considering a possible key lesson.
Tarot said the Nine of Wands. Another eerily appropriate message from tarot! Benebell Wen tells me, “The Seeker feels like he or she is in a defensive, protective mode; like he or she has to fight to defend his or her territory. … It is worth noting that the Seeker’s protective fortress is not quite as impenetrable as the Seeker believes. Note how far apart each of the wands is set” (142). Despite the fact that I desire close and trusting relationships, particularly with my family of choice, I am very often still standing behind my (not all that effective) fortress of emotional walls. Last weekend alone is a good indicator of how weak my defenses really are. I put up a good front, but send a strong wind my way and down I go. A key lesson I can learn from tarot could be how to disassemble my walls rather than fearfully and stubbornly hold my ground.
Position Five: How I Can Be Open To Learning And Developing
I chose the Seven of Pentacles. Hard work and patience have to go into something before I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. The card depicts a woman waiting with scythe in hand. I can be impatient, and I think an important thing for me to remember on this journey is to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the wait. Enjoy the process. Take pride in watching my skills and abilities grow rather than impatiently wanting to just have all my problems solved (ha!). This spring I planted a garden, and it was so hard to be patient! I wanted to see the flowers and the peppers and the squash, but I had to wait. There was no shortcut. I had to provide tender loving care and let the plants grow on their own timetable. I began taking pictures of the plants every few weeks, and when I compared pictures it was easier to see the wonderful progress that had taken place. It made it exciting and fun! I think this journal will be something like those pictures. Snapshots for me to look back on when I’m feeling impatient to show me or remind me how far I have actually come.
Tarot chose The Devil. At first I wasn’t sure what to think when this card came up. After looking through my books I have an idea about what this could represent. It might be my inability to let go. In my case not of material things, but of my “hang-ups.” To let go of my sad little fortress and to stand vulnerable to allow real connection. If I am unable to connect deeply, is my so-called “safety” worth it? It’s not an easy thing. That reminds me of the saying, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” Apparently I’m clinging to the devil I know — a lonely but “safe” place — rather than leaping into the arms of what I fear could be another devil: to give myself freely and to be emotionally battered or rejected all over again. I can be open by letting go, bit by bit. Above, the devil’s coat is full of things like masks, a jawbone, a fly, a watch, bat wings, a ring. Maybe I can take off my coat one thing at a time. Drop a mask and later a bat wing and later something else.
Position Six: The Potential Outcome Of My Tarot Journey
I chose the Six of Swords. This represents a journey away from something bad and on to a better place. The child in the front of the boat represents hope while the swords in the back can represent the baggage I still have. No big life journey like this is every really over, so for me in this card the outcome is getting further away from the bad place and heading toward something better. As I achieve some goals, I can set sail for ever nicer lands. Like in the devil card above, maybe I can throw some of those swords off the boat along my journey. It might not be realistic to think I’ll never carry any baggage with me, but I can lighten the load as I grow and learn.
Tarot chose The Magician. When I was choosing my own cards for this spread, I almost chose The Magician for a few different positions, but he didn’t make the cut. So I’m pleased to see him here! The Magician represents the constructive power of the creative mind. What a wonderful way to see my outcome! Tarot is a little more happy or optimistic in this position than my choice of the Six of Swords, and I’m glad. It seems like an wonderful outcome for my hope in The Moon of connecting my conscious, unconscious, and collective unconscious. He has all four elements laid out on his work table and seems confident and connected with each of them; this seems to reflect not only skill, but balance. The Magician’s creative powers also reflect both of my position one cards, which were each threes. What an uplifting card to end this reading with! And I also really, really love his little hat and his little mouse/rat friend perched on his shoulder.
I think because The Magician is such a hopeful card for me in this spread that I will choose him to carry with me through the rest of this course. 🙂